Rupani Foundation participated in the 2nd National Conference on Early Childhood Care & Education, as a co-organizer. Pursuing the objectives and recommendations of the first National Conference on Early Childhood Care & Education (ECCE), held in March 2017, Rupani Foundation and Allama Iqbal Open University organized the second National Conference on Early Childhood Care & Education with the administrative support of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training and in close collaboration with key development partners including UNICEF, PLAN International and Foundation Open Society Institute. The two-dayConference was held on May 2nd and 3rd 2018 at the Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad. The theme of the conference was: ‘Reconstructing Practices to address Challenges and Trends in ECCE’. The conference was planned for 300 delegates including senior government officials from federal and provincial governments, national and international speakers, ECCE experts, academicians, practitioners, planners, health professionals, teachers and representatives of national and international NGOs.
The conference was inaugurated by the honorable Federal Minister Engr. Muhammad Baligh-ur- Rehman. He applauded the efforts of the 2ndNational ECCE Conference organizers and for working on the recommendations of the first National Conference. The Conference brought together ECCE experts and practitioners to a platform to share the progress on the recommendations of the first conference, share research on ECCE and to highlight the needs and challenges of ECCE in Pakistan. There was an opening and closing session with two planarians and nine concurrent sessions, conference workshops and poster presentations. Around 45 researchers and key organizations from around the country presented their work.
“Let me assure you that we stand with all the initiatives and all the efforts that you are making for laying a sound foundation for the society. We have to reach out to every single child with your support. Early childhood development as you know is the fundamental right of every child to unleash his/her full potential. Without ensuring holistic development of children we cannot claim to transform the society.
A good foundation as you know, in the early years make a difference through adulthood and even gives the next generation a better start. Educated and healthy people participate in, and contribute to, the financial and social wealth of their societies. Early years of childhood form the basis of intelligence, personality, social behavior, and capacity to learn and nurture oneself as an adult”
Engr. Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman
Federal Minister for Education
National and international ECD experts Dr. Almina Pardhan, Faculty of Aga Khan University, Dr. Carol Anita Aubrey, Professor Emeritus, University of Warwick, Institute of Education and Dr. Nasima Sheikh, Deputy President of South African Research Association for Early Childhood Development delivered keynote presentations and representatives of UNICEF, Scaling Up Nutrition and provincial governments shared initiatives taken to promote ECD in Pakistan and highlighted key challenges faced by this sector.
Interactive sessions, discussions and presentations at the Conference resulted into solid recommendations that were presented by Professor Muhammad Rafique Tahir, Joint Educational Advisor, of the Federal Education and Professional Training.
ECCE policy should be based upon social constructivist approach which advocates the use of transformative pedagogies.
Policy should be developed through broad based consultations involving people from grass root level
Uniformity in quality of ECCE must be maintained across all provinces and regions.
Policy must ensure equal opportunities to maintain parity by gender, locale, and any other.
More than one sector is involved in child care and education therefore one platform is needed for coordination among different departments and ministries
Action Plan for implementing policy and curriculum should be developed with clear targets
Fast track formulation of the policy and legislation
Legislation and policy framework for early childhood care, development, education and protection are to be aligned.Process should be initiated wherever the legislation is yet to be made.Child safety and protection in schools, ECCE centers and society is to be ensured
Child behavior is complex, some can be shy and some can be hyperactive with different needs and abilities and early years are marked to be sensitive, for which teachers are to be prepared.
ECE instruction is entirely different than other levels therefore on job training is required at ECE center to equip teachers with the specific skills needed to fulfill the responsibility
Use of games, arts, stories, songs and music is essential part of ECE along with strengthening verbal communication and preventive measures are required for using technological tools.
Mother tongue is the best medium of instruction at early years. Other languages may be taught but not used as the instructional medium
Ethical standards should be made part of ECCE curriculum
Center of excellences for preparing master trainers of ECCE need to be established in all the regions
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
ECE centers enroll children of various ages and teachers need assistance, a cadre of “teaching assistants/care givers” is to be approved.
Diversity and inclusion is to be highlighted in teachers training so that they may be open to include various contexts.
Having differently-abled and challenged children at ECE centers is another aspect to be included in policy and arrangements are to be made for a more inclusive education in early years
Gender stereotyping comes from curriculum, physical spaces and behaviors; it needs to be eliminated at early years grooming for which teachers and parents are to be sensitized.
PARENTS AND SOCIETY INVOLVEMENT
Parental Education should be made mandatory and packages for parents should be developed by ECD experts and offered across the board
Government should support communities to provide ECCE services to children and parents from pre-natal – 3
Al Noor community in Karachi is a migrant population with 130 households and 780 individuals. Majority of the population is associated with low income professions or relies on daily wage laborious tasks. Resultantly, they fail to suffice economic grievances of the people. In these circumstances education takes a back seat on priority list. Education of children becomes secondary as they battle for day to day survival. Early Childhood Education and Development is not even a consideration for these families.Evaluating the need of this community, Rupani Foundation planned to initiate its AW-IP center to bring aboutimprovement and change. RF approached the community to start its Agah Walidain –Informed Parents initiative. The first impression of this community was shared by focal person in these words.“It was said that the community is rigid and incorporative. Different developmental entitiesimplemented/initiated projects but could not succeed and closed their initiative. Sustainability of initiative would be challenging for RF”.Despite the odds, Rupani Foundation established a full-fledged AW-IP center and RF team started mobilizing community through orientation cum awarenesscampaign that included sessions for community, dialogues and meeting with focal persons and community representatives. Regardless of the rigorous efforts only 5 children get enrolled. This was a major setback. The enrolled children and their mothers were neither punctual nor regular. The families were disinterested as a result enrollment remained stagnant at 5.Rupani Foundation teams remained persistent in adversity and rethought the approach and opted for a new discourse to probe the real reasons.In this effort, door to door visits were carried out in community to interact with families first hand.Eligible household were targeted and direct interaction with mothers was bolstered, the findings revealed multi factors behind theirnon-participation and disinterest; that included myths about Early Childhood Care and Development, traditionalelders, joint family system and limited resources.In this perspective, RF re-strategized its mobilization techniques
Against conventional modes like lecturing and presentation for awareness session RF team opted for interactive sessions like practicaldemonstration of AW-IP regular sessions, experience sharing of already enrolled mothers and their children. The enrolled children and mothers functioned as ambassadors of Agah Walidain (Informed Parents) and motivated other community members. After witnessingimprovement and change in children and mothers, community members reconsidered their previousperceptions and enrolled children at the center. The efforts and perseverance of RF bore fruit and a gradual but steady change occurred over period of 7 months. Enrollment increased manifolds; from 5 enrollments it increased to 12. Outof 15 eligible children 12 children are enrolled incenter; which is80%of total eligible children of total eligible children. One of the grandmothers expressed her feelings in these words “I was against sending my grandchild to this center; I also convinced my neighbor lady on the impossibility of a 3 years old child learning and benefiting. But seeing enrolled children at the center responding to directions of their teacher( FSM) and mothers , saying greetings properly, placing back their toys in shelves, knowing names of so many animals, birds , fruits and most of all so actively doing actions at the same time singing rhymes just amazed me. Now my grand child is going to attend this center; I promise”
Rupani Foundation Gilgit organized a month long training course for Family Supports Motivators (FSMs) of Agah Walidain new Replications 2018. Participants from 4 districts of GB, Gilgit, Ghizer, Hunza and Nagar were selected for this training course. The basic aim of the training was to equip the participants with in-depthknowledge of EarlyChildhoodCareand Education and instill skills to deliver Agah Walidain program practically intheir respectivecenters that is focused on prenatal to 3 years ECD.The training program was basically consisted of two major parts; in the initial phaseparticipants were familiarized with the proceedings of AWIP class and the pedagogies practiced by FSM.In the afternoon session, FSM were engaged in theoretical aspect of ECCE, participants worked in group presentations and home visits. The training concluded with a certificate distribution ceremony, attended by the Vice Chairman,Board of Directors and CEO of Rupani Foundation. Incumbent FSMs shared Low cost and No cost books with the guests and received appreciation and encouragement.
Rupani Foundation has been working in close collaboration with the Government of Sindh to supplement its efforts in mainstreaming Early Childhood Care and Education. Funded by the Open Society Foundation, Rupani Foundation is piloting Agah-Walidain Approach in 10 government primary schools of district Badin. The overall goal of the project is to support Government of Sindh (GoS) to achieve its “Right to Education” mandate, especially contributing to SDG 4.2 through upgrading and developing the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). Fulfilling its commitment, Rupani Foundation staff recently organized a two week extensive training session for 19 teachers (17 female, 2 Male). Led by early childhood professionals, the training gave opportunity to the course participants to expand and upgrade their knowledge of early education. Training module covered linguistic, cognitive, physical, psycho-emotional and socio-ethical domains of holistic development. The training also gave detailed insight into practices in ECCE, introduction and implementation of National ECCE Curriculum, Lesson Planning, Teaching Approaches and Pedagogy, Age relevant developmental milestones for children of 0 to 3 years , low cost no cost learning and teaching material.Training culminated with certificate distribution among teachers by Chief Guest
Syed Imran Ali Shah, District Officer Literacy (DO Literacy) from District Education Office, and Mr. Imran Focal Person District Education Officer ,Tehsil Education Officers (TEOs), Focal Person, Board Member of Rupani Foundation (RF) and Board of Directors of Rupani Foundation. Chief Guest applauded the pilot project and thanked RF for selecting a remote district in Sindh like Badin where ECCE services need to start. He assured education departments’ support to make the pilot project successful in the district.
REFLECTION OF PARTICIPANTS
First of all I am thankful to Rupani Foundation that our School has been selected for the ECCE project. Way of teaching of Sir Salman is so different and easy. Earlier we never had learnt that children are taught differently than adults. He taught us how teach for holistic development of teachers. We enjoyed all the practical activities. We learnt about how to develop lesson plan. We will soon implement our learning. The training had been very fruitful”. Ms. Kanwal GGPS, Murad Khan Talpur
Program Manager Rupani Foundation, Sindh, after returning from a training in USA on Child Rights and Child Protection, organized a session in Community Based School Tando Muhammad Khan, Sindh, on the same theme. In the session she shed light over mistreatment of children, violence, discrimination and child labour in our country. In this session children were taught through demonstration about various safety skills and precautions. At least 60 participants were present in the session.
Early Learning Model (ELM) students’ final assessment day was celebration with parents at ELM center Gilgit. In this event, the everyday assessment and activity booklet of all students were shared with their parents. In addition to this, ELM team granted awards to the children under various categories including: music smart, language smart, art and craft smart, and more. The event took place on December 15, 2015.